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A new report finds that more than one in three Americans has debt in collections. But don't panic! FindLaw.com has many resources that can help.
According to the Urban Institute, 35 percent of U.S. consumers are struggling with debt in collections -- amounting to approximately 77 million Americans. But what can these debtors do to climb out from underneath their financial obligations?
Check out these three ways FindLaw can help Americans who are struggling with debt in collections:
1. Learn How to Deal With Harassing Collectors.
Nothing could be more grating on someone who is already struggling financially than an onslaught of calls from debt collectors. But you don't have to just sit back and take it. FindLaw's Law and Daily Life offers 10 tips for handling debt collector harassment, including ways to make the calls legally stop. You may even need to watch out for debt collectors on Facebook.
FindLaw's Blogs can help you educate yourself on whether your debt collector is breaking the law by calling you late at night, and FindLaw's Learn About the Law section gives you a plain-English breakdown of your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
2. Examine Potential Ways to Escape Debt.
Despite some reports, Americans with debt in collection should not fear being thrown in debtors' prison. If anything, there are more ways to legally escape debt now than ever. Again, FindLaw's Law and Daily Life blog shows consumers how you may be able to escape very old debts, or maybe just pay a small part of it.
And while student loan debt may be fairly ironclad, most other debts can be negotiated and even settled -- sometimes for pennies on the dollar. Sometimes the debt may be the result of a mistake or error on the part of the creditor, in which case FindLaw readers can use our sample billing dispute letter to clear up any erroneous charges.
3. Explore Bankruptcy and Other Legal Options.
Often the best option to escape the crushing financial weight of debt collection is to declare bankruptcy. If your debts are discharged in your bankruptcy case, you may end up with a clean slate. FindLaw's Learn About the Law section on Bankruptcy covers the basic types of bankruptcy, checklists for filing, and even tips on credit counseling and making a budget.
Debtors, you aren't alone in this. Let FindLaw help you figure out a way to get your debt-collection issues under control.